Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 13 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 13, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 13 April 2008


Sunrise. We’ve been motoring all night at about 4 knots. We seem to be out of the current – just a tiny remnant. Still no wind but the grib says this afternoon…Lovely morning, stoked to be alive stuff – the sky is misty blue with a layer of angel dust ice crystals way up high, then a bit of fluffy altoCu, intricately patterned like the wonderful silk lace the old Maltese women used too make as they sat in their dooorway, cirrussy marestails with wind blown hair trailing behind, mid level puffs of Cu and ordinary cu in cottonballs everywhere. And, best of all, for a few minutes as the sun rose I could see shadows spearing off to the west, cast against the ice crystals by each cloud – rather like being in the sun’s cage for a while as I had a contemplative McVities dunk.

Tried a restore of the dead laptop and thought we were winning as it chunnered away to itself for half an hour or so but in the end it sent us an error message saying it could not restore because there had been an improper shutdown. I don’t recall shutting it down, but there ya go! I think it will become bait for the next Krikkit robot that tries to barge in on us.

We’re settling in. Berri less cluttered as we gradually find space for the last minute load stuff and this little bit of driving will use some diesel too so we will be able to drop some out of the big bag on the cockpit floor into the main tank. Will be bliss for a while when we can get rid of that bag. But we’re still packed like I imagine a Progress module must be. We must eat our way through a lot of it.

I saved my Guardian Weekly and New Scientist for the last couple of months, still in their plastic wrappers and I’ve just retrieved the earliest of them – crosswords and brainfood. Rationed to one of each per week. Today perhaps, the BBC world service on the short wave radio. Michael’s CD’s and even Ipods too. More on Ipods later perhaps, but, K, thanks for the playlist and I see exactly what you mean.

Time to walk around and make sure nothing is falling off.


I don’t believe this…

Only just out of the paper bag and the first laptop has crashed, as far as I can see, irretrievably. And I don’t know why. It has lost everything, including profiles, applications, the works, and it runs about as fast as I do these days. Frustration, anger, general pissedoffedness abounds. I have lost all previous messages, trip data and charts and all my stored email addresses. Almost raided the goodies bag, Kimbra!

So I’m up and running on the backup as long as this one keeps going.

Otherwise, a good day except for the East Coast current. I thought that we would be clear of the worst of it this far out, but we’re still bashing into a couple of knots. Malcom, if you are out there, could you please work your magic and tell us how far out we have to go? It has cost us about 60 miles so far – the alternative would have been a rock hop to Brisbane and then out but I guess you cop what you sow.

I will keep a rough vmg going between noon positions, based on DTD – distance to Dutch. Starting DTD was 5819nm. Noon pos today was 2956.39.9 15455.26.3 DTD 5520nm, so vmg 299 and we’re barely on schedule, but it does tell us that without the current we’d be way ahead, which is encouraging. Poled out all day, lovely sailing, almost no seabirds.

We spoke on the satphone to Leroy and Karen for Yuri’s night. Interesting change of circumstances – when Pete and I first spoke to Leroy, he was up there hurtling around in his concatenation of tin cans and plumbers tubing and we were on a speaker phone in the Falklands, at Arlette Betts’ house. This time, we were in the vee-hicle, by no means hurtling though, and Leroy and Karen were on the speaker phone.

I had a much more interesting set of ideas for this blog but the computer crash has rather fried my brain. Will work on unfrying it.

And we found the tin opener – had three others but tedious to leave the Rolls behind…


McQ: Is it time to get the sextant out?????

Poor old Alex, he isn’t very amused at Poot No1 failing. We are now using Poot 2 (of 3!!!)Unfortunately we are not IT geeky enough to know why it had a tantrum but I do know that computers and sea don’t work happily together, ever. Still, pretty unhelpful of it all round. I think I like this one better though, the keys are bigger and you don’t kwwp preddong the wrong ines in the swekk.

My first reaction was, not to worry, people have been going to sea for centuries without computers- we have the paper charts and can navigate our way no problem. Alex agreed of course but he has got himself worked up about emails etc and communicating with the outside world. It seems that Alex and Petes trip just unfolded and turned into something special for those following as it continued. I get the impression that this time round there is a certain level of expectation, even if for the most part, that is just in our mind. As we have said we haven’t achieved anything yet: we will get to where we are going when we get there!!! If for any reason we don’t get to where we aimed for, I don’t think of it as a failure, just one of those things that happen. A bit like the first Sydney Hobart race I attempted, we had to retire, I was gutted, but these things happen. (This email is obviously based at the three people who are actually following us, despite our delusions of self importance, to think there might be others!!!!)

I guess I am trying to say that if for any reason we lose our communication ability we will do our best to sort it but if we can’t you three out there will have to wait for one GIANT blog from wherever we end up!!! (bad luck!!) So if that happens, please be patient, if only so I can reassure Alex that you are being and we can stop stressing and keep trying to achieve our goals…

In the meantime we will write as much drivel as we can… and undoubtedly more than anyone wants to read!!!!

This is all a bit serious so I should mention the weird weird clouds that were about today- first of all the sky was covered in long thin wisps, like jellyfish tentacles, then these turned into one giant cauliflower, that exploded!!! Little bits of cauliflower all over the sky!!! (its true, its true!!!) and left behind a big strawberry wearing sunglasses. Bonkers!!! (the clouds, not me)

Thanks and lots of love MCQ

Ps Kimbra, which bag do I open for the in-house IT technician????


McQ: Has anyone seen the tin opener?

For us, it is a new day and the celebrations for Yuri are over- no doubt there are still parties going on in different time zones. Back in the real world out here it is a beautiful sunny day with a spatterring of fluffy clouds about. We have about 15 knots of wind behind us and we are currently poled out (no1) and stonking along at around 5-6 knots. There is still a fair swell running and occasionally the wind drops off enough for us to wallow a tad in the big seas. Unfortunately we are also bashing nearly two knots of current- we must be almost out of it by now, surely??!! But we are finally north of Coffs and pointing in the right direction, so we can’t really complain!! The ocean is a beautiful colour too, quite mesmerising, which only serves to remind that it doesn’t take much to turn it into a boiling seething angry mass of water and days like today ought to be appreciated.

On Wednesday before we left, Hilary and I did one last sweep of Woolies in case we had forgotten something- she asked if we had a tin opener and I I said that I hadn’t seen one on board. Then we joked about how funny it would be after smugly storing all those tins neatly and organised on board but then be unable to open them!!! So we bought a new tin opener- and left it behind, by mistake, we think.


SpaceRef staff editor.